The natural beauty of marble or granite enhances any kitchen or bathroom, but they can be costly and need a lot of maintenance. Concrete countertops give you the same elegance, but their easy customization allows you to choose your accent colors and edge moldings. Their finished surface is more stain, heat, and scratch resistant. Here is a summary of the easy steps on how to make concrete countertops. For more detailed instruction, please visit us at Stonecrete Systems.
When you browse most other DIY sites on how to make your own concrete countertops, they begin with a rather complicated method of creating your form. The Ashby System simply uses birch or lauan plywood strips, laid on existing countertop to create a template, then glued where the strips meet. No tape measure needed. Finish your template by simply using a marker to label the edges of your cabinet (front, back, inside, outside), location of sink, edge molding location (where you will need additional space on your form), square edges and overhang.
Building the Form
Once again differing from most other systems that require 2×4 construction, the Ashby System simply traces the template onto ¾” thick melamine (like a dry erase board). Once it is traced and the areas for the sink and any other drop-ins are indicated, the outer edges are cut to create your form, which will be one single piece. For detailed instruction on creating areas for your sinks and drop-ins, check out the videos on the Stonecrete Systems website. As outlined in the instructional videos, make sure you “X” out the remaining open spaces of your template, so you know those will go face down when pouring your countertop.
Using a finish nailer, attach 2 ¾” strips of melamine to the outer edges of your cut sheet. Remember, this is a form and you will need to remove it, so do not “overnail.” If you are using a decorative edging (a simple step that will elevate the sophistication of your countertop), attach the mold edging to the interior of your form using 1” brad nails. To keep your edge molding from wrinkling on interior corners and creating a flawed design, use leftover melamine to construct a cross-support on the corner. Seal all joints with 100% silicone black caulk and then smooth with your finger.
Mixing and Pouring
Use a mixer to ensure that you get the perfect texture and firmness for your concrete. Do NOT try to mix by hand. To create your desired pattern, you will want to use a container that will allow you to easily pour a small amount of concrete onto your form in a curving motion, including areas where you can pour a darker or lighter vein to accent. When your concrete is poured, make sure you use a table or pencil vibrator to also ensure that you remove any air pockets in the concrete. These will weaken it and cause dips in your surface. After the appropriate curing time, screed (level) the surface, and then again wait for further curing before you trowel it to smooth it. When the poured concrete pulls away from the form (at least 48-72 hours), the form is ready to be removed. Place your new countertop on small pieces of polystyrene to allow airflow underneath for continued curing.
Finishing the Surface
To complete your beautiful surface, you will then apply a sealer, grout the top, apply a second coat of sealer, and then finish it with a topcoat that will resist stains, scratches, and heat. Be sure to allow for appropriate drying times between each stage.
For more information about how to make concrete countertops or to purchase our Ashby System products, please contact us today.